New Content From Current Directions in Psychological Science

Step Out of Line: Modeling Nonlinear Effects and Dynamics in Close-Relationships Research
Yuthika U. Girme

Girme draws on attachment theory to illustrate how to model nonlinear effects in close relationships. Close relationships often involve tumultuous and dynamic experiences that cannot be accounted for by linear models. A nonlinear model that includes curvilinear relationships between variables and accounts for dynamics across time (i.e., variation within each partner and flexibility within the couple) can reveal unique relationship experiences, reconcile inconsistencies in the literature, and deepen our understanding of complex interpersonal processes.

What We Could Learn About Holistic Face Processing Only From Nonface Objects
Isabel Gauthier

People generally find it difficult to process independent face parts and instead process faces as a whole—holistic processing. However, it has been difficult to study whether individual differences in this holistic processing come from experience or have other influences. Gauthier cites recent studies that combined using nonface objects and manipulating experience levels to study individual differences in holistic processing. This research suggests that holistic processing is not face-specific. Instead, it usually arises from an individual’s experience with objects’ diagnostic parts from a specific category and thus is domain-specific.

Developing an Individual Profile of Attentional Control Strategy
Jessica L. Irons and Andrew B. Leber

The ability to control one’s attention might not depend only on cognitive abilities but also on the strategies used. Irons and Leber review research suggesting that while some individuals tend to choose suboptimal strategies, others are able to choose optimal strategies. But the quality of their choice appears to depend on task-specific demands and not on their control or cognitive abilities. These findings suggest that exploring strategy as a fundamental dimension of individual variation in attention control may foster our understanding of attentional control, even in applied settings.

Cognitive-Load Theory: Methods to Manage Working Memory Load in the Learning of Complex Tasks
Fred Paas and Jeroen J. G. van Merriënboer

The ability to manage one’s working memory may facilitate learning complex information and performing complex tasks. Paas and van Merriënboer explain the principles of cognitive-load theory and its goal of optimizing learning of complex cognitive tasks. To describe methods of ascertaining cognitive load control and working memory management, the authors focus on the cognitive architecture of cognitive-load theory and the characteristics of the learning task, the learner, and the learning environment. These methods can guide instructional-design decisions and improve learning.

Cognitive Ability in Everyday Life: The Utility of Open-Source Measures
William Revelle, Elizabeth M. Dworak, and David Condon

The International Cognitive Ability Resource (ICAR; ICAR-project.com) makes open-source measures of cognitive ability, namely intelligence, available for researchers, without the expenses associated with the proprietary nature of assessment measures. With ICAR, researchers can more easily assess cognitive ability in large or small surveys and experimental studies. The open availability of these measures facilitates the assessment of individual differences in cognitive ability.

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